Members of the public are being duped into paying for expensive new mobiles which are then sent to scammers posing as representatives of a phone company, Hartlepool Borough Council Trading Standards is warning.
The scam begins with a phone call, supposedly on behalf of a mobile service provider, offering an upgrade. Having gathered the necessary personal details, the scammer then contacts the phone company, which posts out a new handset to the victim’s address. When it arrives, the victim is contacted again and told that the wrong phone has been sent, and is asked to post it back – this time, to the scammer’s address.
Once the scammer receives the new phone, they disappear – leaving the victim with no phone and a new, more expensive contract.
Hartlepool Borough Council Trading Standards Manager, Ian Harrison, said: “We have spoken to local mobile phone shops following a number of incidents where consumers have apparently been called out of the blue by their phone provider and offered mobile phone upgrades.
“Once the offer is accepted, a new phone arrives as promised but is quickly followed by a call advising that the wrong phone has been delivered and that it needs to be returned to a specific address.
“In reality, both calls are from scammers and the new phone ends up in the scammers’ hands.
“It would appear that to do this, the scammer has been able to obtain sufficient information about a consumer to be able to convince their mobile phone provider that they want an upgraded phone.”
Harrison cautions that the scam could potentially be used for products other than mobile phones: “This type of scam could apply to a whole range of expensive products and I would urge consumers to be very wary if they are asked to return goods that have been delivered to them,” he said.
“If this happens, they should make a new phone call to the company that sent the goods to verify the return is genuine. If it is too late, and the goods have already been forwarded to a new address, they should contact the sender immediately.”